Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday unveiled a $17 billion plan to overhaul the state’s infrastructure in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, focusing on areas like transportation, weather prediction, emergency management and the electrical, fuel and sewer systems.
“There is a call for us to literally reimagine the state in light of what we went through with Hurricane Sandy, and storms Irene and Lee,” Cuomo said at a press conference in Albany. “We’re taking those lessons and that trauma and reshaping our vision of New York through that experience.”
Cuomo was joined by Vice President Joe Biden and many local leaders — including City Manager Jack Schnirman, State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and County Executive Ed Mangano — for an event called Reimagining New York for a New Reality, which focused on identifying the state’s shortcomings in infrastructure and emergency preparedness and changing the way those problems are approached in an era when extreme weather is the new norm.
“We used to rebuild after disasters to the status quo ante,” Biden said. “That’s not the standard in the 21st century; that cannot be the standard. We have to rebuild in a way that you will not be victimized in a similar storm again. If we don’t build smart, we’re not going to be able to, in the next two, five, 20 years, live along the coast.”
Long Beach, Schnirman said, had major difficulties with its water and sewer plants after Sandy, along with a long-term power failure and a gas shortage. He said that the strategy laid out by Cuomo on Tuesday addresses many of the issues the city focused on over the past year.
“It’s good to see the governor’s comprehensive plan to reimagine New York,” Schnirman said. “And here in Long Beach, we’re working on complementary and similar things … seeking to rebuild Long Beach in such a manner that we will become a model of resiliency and sustainability, and not only be prepared for future storms, but also see less impact.”